Getting Help When Filing for SSDI for Parkinson’s Patients

For over three years now, Ram Meyyappan has been a writer and an editor for Social Security Disability Help (www.disability-benefits-help.org). She contacted me regarding doing a guest blog post on Parkinson’s Journey on getting help when filing for disability for Parkinson’s patients.

This is her very informative and helpful article for those seeking to hopefully, speed up what can often be a very long, frustrating, and discouraging process in the PD community – filing for disability. I hope you find it helpful and / or can pass it along to others who may be in need of direction in their attempts at filing for disability through the Social Security system.

Journeying with you – sherri

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Parkinson’s disease
As you likely know, if you have firsthand experience with this condition, people with Parkinson’s disease face worsening symptoms such as muscle stiffness, tremors, and trouble with motor skills. As these symptoms become more severe over time, it will become increasingly difficult, or impossible, for this person to maintain a job. Not only do people living with Parkinson’s often struggle to pay for day-to-day expenses, but they also have to worry about costly medical expenses. This is when having Social Security disability benefits become a major source of relief.

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits With Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is a special case when it comes to Social Security claims because there is no definitive test or lab report that will prove a Parkinson’s diagnosis. What you can provide is a detailed report provided by your physician – perhaps a neurologist – that demonstrates any physical evidence of your condition, as well as the severity of the symptoms you are facing.

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is typically reached once a physician finds evidence that you are showing signs of at least two of the cardinal symptoms, which includebradykinesia (which refers to slowness of movements), muscle rigidity, and tremors. When determining if someone is eligible for Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for evidence that these symptoms impede significantly on an individual’s ability to complete typical workplace tasks.

People who live with Parkinson’s disease are generally approved for assistance if they are able to provide strong evidence that the condition has significantly made it difficult to stand, lift, walk, or even sit for an extended period of time. A strong Social Security Disability application will typically include documentation provided by medical professionals that show that the applicant is experiencing ongoing and debilitating symptoms in at least two extremities, even though they are undergoing prescribed treatments.

The SSA Blue Book, when listing eligibility requirements, does not specifically address the many emotional and cognitive issues that people experiencing the later stages of Parkinson’s can often experience. However, if these symptoms are making it difficult for someone to understand and follow directions when working, they can be used as evidence in the application process.

Understanding The Difference Between SSI and SSDI
There are two different Social Security Disability Programs for which you can apply: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).The primary difference between SSDI and SSI is that SSDI benefits are accessible to people that are too disabled to work, and who have paid into the system through payroll taxes, and have accumulated enough work credits. SSI benefits are available to people who are disabled, or over 65 years old, but who have a very limited income and who have not accumulated enough work credits to receive SSD assistance. SSI benefits are strictly needs based, and the amount received will depend upon income and the state where the applicant resides.

You can learn more about the two disability programs here:http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/245/~/difference-between-social-security-disability-and-ssi-disability

What to Expect from the Social Security Disability Application Process
It is important to realize that the SSD application process can be quite lengthy. Most people with Parkinson’s disease, who apply, are often denied assistance initially, but a substantial number are then approved for benefits after an appeals and hearing process.

If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is never to soon to begin investigating the SSD application process, as you could be waiting over a year to begin receiving badly needed financial assistance. To improve the chances that you will be granted approval for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible, it is recommended that you seek legal guidance during the complex application and appealing procedures.

Article by Ram Meyyappan
www.disability-benefits-help.org
Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help
ram@ssd-help.org

A Rendition of Psalm 28

 

Photo by Sherri Woodbridge, 2015
 The Lord is our light, guiding us on this journey of life with… Parkinson’s disease. Or maybe for you, it’s cancer. MS. Crone’s disease. Depression. Or, maybe an addiction. A habit you want to break but can’t seem to do it.

The Lord is your light. What do you fear? The Lord is your stronghold in this life – what are you afraid of?

When thoughts of giving up or giving in – when they come upon you in an effort to eat away at your peace and confidence in Him and attack you from every side, seeking to break your spirit and render you useless – they will be thwarted and cast away.

Though an onslaught of useless, hopeless thoughts try to make a place for themselves in your life – thoughts like, “What if this happens?” or “What if that happens?” – even at moments like that… we can be confident. Content. Comforted.

We can approach Him with confidence. We can come with faith as small as a mustard seed, in search of the greatest desires of our hearts. We can approach Him without fear. We can seek Him for eternal blessings. We can look to Him for comfort in knowing that we will dwell with Him for all our days. In the days filled with moments of sorrow and moments filled with joy. And yes, even in the moments through our sicknesses and diseases – in all those moments consumed with fear – He can be found. We can find Him in His glory and majesty, waiting to extend His blessings of that comfort and safety. We can find him waiting to shelter us under his wings of strength. Willing – wanting – to be our refuge. To be the One we run to. The One we confide in. The One we cling to.

He will hold us up when we cannot sustain ourselves. He gives us strength when we are weak, compassion and understanding when we feel our bodies are failing, a spirit to fight when faced with fear, and joy for our journey. When we find this sweet spot – this place of rest – we are able and find delight in glorifying Him alone.

We cry out, “Hear me, God! Hear me! I am crying out to you! Have compassion on me. Show me kindness, gentleness, grace. Answer me. Please!” We run and chase after Him, desiring Him and Him alone. We fear He is hiding. That He really doesn’t care. Have we angered Him? Is He turning away from us as He turned from Christ in that dark moment upon the cross? Is this our cross to bear and must we bear it alone? Are these the fears that inhabit that utter darkness of despair?

Again, we cry out.

“Lord, God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit… do not play this game of hide and seek. Do not turn me away. Forgive me Lord, discipline me, rebuke me – but do not leave me!”

All is still.

All is quiet.

Did we dare to demand of Almighty God like that?!?

David did. God still loved and listened. Even called him FRIEND. David was honest to the core. And so we may be, too.

So quietly and softly we say it.

We feel it.

We express it.

After our cry, “Do not leave me!”, despairingly yet honestly we add, “Like so many before. …like I have You.”

We sit there. Emptied of the fight. Oddly, weak but renewed with His grace. Strengthened with His peace. Humbled with His faithfulness. Restored with His truth.

As it washes over us – a love that knows no conditions, a mercy that knows no bounds – we sit there and in a whisper we plead, “Teach me to be still Lord, to walk in faith and trust you in for every single step. May I not waver because of my fears.

“Do not let my them defeat me. They seek to destroy my peace, my state of mind, the truth that You still care. You’ve always cared.”

We take a deep breath. From somewhere within, we feel a renewed confidence in Him. A faith restored. Trust takes over, and fear falters.

“I am confident Lord, that I will see your goodness here on this earth, in the land of those who are living and so I will wait. In my confidence – in trust and with faith – I will wait

“Because of you, I will be strong and have hope. I will have an unquenchable courage that trusts in a loving God who fights for me. I will hope for the best, and anticipate the better. I will depend on you to dissipate the darkness in my days and to revive and renew me when the lot of despair threatens to depress me. And, as I wait, I will wait in wonder, watching for your hand to work in me – watching for You to work for me. “

8 Things Caregivers Need

I remember not long ago a man confided in me that his wife had left him. He had Parkinson’s disease. Thirty years of marriage. Now, I’m not saying she left because he had PD, but whatever the reason(s), she left. You could say, just when he needed her most.

It’s not uncommon at all for spouses to decide to leave when the other one gets sick (so much for “in sickness and in health”). I think it could be a matter of ‘having it up to here‘ and then finding out the one you’ve ‘put up with‘ for ever so long now has a condition that will not only made their life more difficult, but the caregiver’s life as well.

Parkinson’s does that to a married couple. To a father-son relationship. To the bonds between mother and daughter. To friends. It comes in and subtlety takes away the ties which once bound these relationships together by a tight knot. What may have been a relationship tied together like loose shoe laces, is now dangling by a thread, if not completely torn apart already.

The PD patient changes. They are physically familiar, but mentally, emotionally – they’re not the same and the caregiver is left struggling with how to deal with their new lot in life – taking care of someone else while taking care of themselves.

If you are a caregiver to anyone, first of all, thank you for your commitment and sacrifice. You might get hit, have to change yet another big girl or boy diaper, clean up another spill, wash another naked body, but we – your charges – appreciate you more than we might be able to say or show..

And now, here are eight little things you can do as a caregiver to, hopefully, make your role a little bit easier….

  • Breathe deeply and when you get one free minute (or two), please do one thing  (or two) that puts a smile on your face. Go out to the garden and breathe in the fragrance of a rose. Put on encouraging music. Read a short devotional. Fix a cup of tea.  And then scream.
  • Don’t focus on the what-ifs. They’ll defeat you most every time. Do focus on now. Things may seem like a tremendous struggle at the moment, but you have to admit that things really could be worse. Today is just one of the harder days, but when the clock strikes twelve, it’s a new day and something wonderful could be ahead that may just make it easier (the patent may turn into a pumpkin!). Don’t lose hope.
  • If you don’t have one already (and most likely what you’re going through is causing you to find one), get a sense of humor. Without one, you’ll often despair. Find something funny in every day. If there really isn’t anything you can find, read or watch something funny. You need to laugh.

  • Get yourself into a support group locally or online. You may not think you need it yet (or ever), but you do. Especially as the road becomes bumpier. And it will get bumpier. Get some support in place now, as it will make things easier to deal with later.
  • You need your friends. Don’t alienate them by thinking “you’ve got this“. Accept their invitation of help. Accept their giving you an hour off, washing the dishes, picking up some groceries, dropping the kids off at practice, cooking your family a meal. Give yourself some slack and let your friends feel needed, because if they are offering to help before you have even asked, they may be able to see your need better than you do.
  • Try to think ahead. Your loved one’s mental faculties may not be so great anymore. A daily schedule may be useful with a reminder for doctor appointments, visitors, special occasions, etc. They have white boards that have permanent monthly calendars that you can easily change for each different month and activities. This reduces stress in many ways  – for everyone.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. There will be good days and bad days. That’s what life is made of, only now your good days and bad days have had a debilitating disease thrown into the mix. You may have more ‘bad’ days now due to your new, unwanted role. And because this is admittedly, an unwanted role, you hate it. You loathe it. You feel like your life has been stolen along with the one you’re caring for. You have thoughts of packing it in. Giving  up. Throwing in the towel. Leaving the patient to fend for him/herself and walking away. You’re tired, weary, spent, worn out. You want it to end and you feel guilty for thinking and feeling the way you do.  And it’s okay. It’s normal. Your caring for the one you’re grieving over while you’re grieving over what you’ve both lost already and could very well lose still. It’s okay to be frustrated, to go outside for a reprieve and scream. It’s okay to let the tears flow. Just remember: the one you love is in this fight with you, not against you. They are just not able to fight as they once did. Try to remember them as who they were 10, 15, 20 years ago when you laughed together and went for walks together and… you know, those things.
  • Try to remember… if your loved one could get out and mow the lawn again, he’d do it in a heartbeat – if he could. If the wife you care for could brush her own teeth and tie her own shoes, you’d both be ecstatic that you weren’t needed for that anymore. Whatever you’re losing, they are losing as well and have been internally dreading these days coming with a vengeance. If they could, they’d take this bitter cup from you faster than you think.  And remember, the cup will be dry one day, so enjoy it now while there is still some juice left – even if at times it may be sour.

We don’t mean to be a pain. Trust me. I know.